The Rousdon Estate: Reed Bed Sewage Treatment Systems

Rousdon Estate is a unique development dating from the 1870s commissioned by Sir Henry Peek, with an impressive Tudor style grade II* listed Mansion House as its centrepiece which housed Allhallows School until its closure in 1998. The Estate is classified as a conservation area and the landscaped parkland is contained within tree belts which provide the perimeter to the estate on three sides.

During its heyday the estate had a population of over 700, including pupils, teachers and estate workers. The estate wastewater was served by a duplex trickling filter bed system with a discharge to ground.

Biology field trip

WCI’s brief was to rectify and bring up-to-date the existing sewage treatment system serving the estate. This could only be done once a permit had been granted by the Environment Agency and this was going to take some time. Although there had been discharge at this site from 1874, there was no existing Environment Agency Permit. The under-cliff was now also classified a SSSI and cSAC and leased to Natural England who had objections to the proposed proposals under the ‘Habitats Directive’,

The EA Permit should have taken four months to complete however in the end it actually took eleven. WCI had to carry out an environmental impact assessment, map the under-cliff using GPS and liaise with English Nature to ensure that the Consent would be granted. Once granted the work rectifying the existing system could begin.

The existing primary settlement tankage, two trickling filters and humus tank had been badly neglected and had to be fully refurbished complete with new distribution arms. In addition four tertiary reed bed cells were installed in the field below the existing system. Initially only the first bed was planted as the development of the site was to be phased and the other beds were to be planted as required. The improvement works took five weeks to complete.

The result: The Rousdon Estate was able to meet it’s Environment Agency objectives whilst minimising costs by rectifying an existing perfectly functional system and in addition installing tertiary treatment in the form of reed beds.

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